Five weeks from today, the MLB season will be over (barring more makeup games) and we’ll be getting ready for the postseason.
I know, right? Seems like the season just started.
Oh, wait. It did just start, one month ago today.
This 60-game sprint has been like nothing Major League Baseball has seen before, and hopefully by 2021 we’ll be back to “normal,” both in life and in baseball, though nothing’s guaranteed.
Last week when I wrote on this topic, I actually wound up getting the matchups wrong because I had thought the seeding would simply be 1-through-8 in each league based on records. That’s not quite right:
The top three seeds (Nos. 1-3) in each league will go to the three division winners (East, Central, West) in order of record.
The next three seeds (Nos. 4-6) will go to the three teams that finish in second place in their division, in order of record.
The final two seeds (Nos. 7-8) will go to the two teams with the next best records, regardless of division and division standing.
All right. Now that it’s clear exactly how that seeding works, here are what would be the matchups in each league if the playoffs began today. Remember, the team with the better record would host all the games of a three-game series.
#8 Rockies (13-15) at #1 Dodgers (22-8)
#7 Giants (14-16) at #2 Cubs (17-10)
#6 Marlins (11-11) at #3 Braves (16-12)
#5 Cardinals (9-8) at #4 Padres (18-12)
Two teams with losing records, yuck. The NL is split between the haves and the have-nots, and with the Cardinals still having to make up a significant number of games, who knows where they’re going to wind up. Only five teams in the NL have winning records at this moment.
The Giants were mired in last place in the NL West until recently. They’ve won six in a row, though it should be noted that all of those wins are against bad teams (Angels, Diamondbacks). I’d think the Cubs could handle them pretty easily, especially since the Giants are currently 6-10 on the road.
Just to show you how quickly things can change in this shortened season, two weeks ago the Rockies were 11-3 and had the best record in baseball. Since then they’ve lost 12 of 14 and seven in a row and barely hang on to the No. 8 spot by two percentage points over the Mets based on today’s standings.
Two of the four matchups above (Rockies/Dodgers and Marlins/Braves) stay within the same division.
#8 Orioles (14-14) at #1 Athletics (20-9)
#7 White Sox (17-12) at #2 Rays (19-10)
#6 Astros (15-13) at #3 Twins (19-10)
#5 Indians (17-11) at #4 Yankees (16-9)
I’m not exactly sure how MLB will break ties for seeding (there won’t be any tiebreaker games), so I just arbitrarily gave the Rays the higher seed.
I also gave the Orioles, 108-game losers in 2019, the last slot even though the Blue Jays (13-13) are also at .500, another arbitrary choice. It’s actually not impossible that Baltimore will stay in. They’d probably be quickly dispatched by the A’s.
All four of these matchups are between teams from different divisions.
I’ll update this weekly for now, probably a bit more often in the last couple of weeks of this abbreviated season.